When The Caterer Decides The Cake Is Wrong

I got an email from a reader who told me about her own wedding cake nightmare, so of course I had to share it, with her permission! So here goes, and after you read this story of woe, as Angela describes it, visit her blog, which is really cute. http://www.cottagemagpie.com/

I really wish that I had had access to your article series when I got married (back in 2002). We were on a very strict budget and limited our guest list only to family and a few close friends (we had about 20 people). We were married by a friend in her backyard and then had the reception at a historic home in our area that we were able to rent for the afternoon for a fraction of the usual price because they had just opened and had a free day and we didn’t require any support services. I bought a regular dress rather than a wedding dress and my husband wore regular clothes, as did our maid of honor and best man (our only wedding party). It was VERY small and very simple, but suited us and I was happy with how it turned out.
Except for one thing.
A friend (whom I no longer am in contact with) catered our reception at a discount as a favor (she is a chef and at the time was the head chef at an upscale restaurant in town). We paid for ingredients that she bought wholesale and we had a couple of mutual friends who volunteered to serve and prep for her. So far so good. BUT, she also insisted on providing our wedding cake as a wedding gift.

She has a baker friend that she had made some kind of trade arrangement with and took care of everything. I had one meeting with the baker in her kitchen while she was working for about 15 minutes. I mentioned that my husband really wanted carrot cake, but that it could be a lighter interpretation of carrot cake so it wasn’t so dense if that was easier for her to work with.

I mentioned that I loved the idea of edible flowers as decoration (I love natural themed things) and she mentioned an antique cake pan that had a beautiful shape, which sounded interesting. She was going to come up with some ideas and we were going to talk again. But my chef friend was going to coordinate that – their trade agreement wasn’t final at the time of the meeting and so I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to make another appointment with this baker or not.

I also did not have the baker’s contact info, did not know what to expect. My chef friend never did organize another meeting – she said it was fine and that it was all taken care of.
I had no idea what kind of cake I was getting!! I was worried, but I had so many other things to deal with – family stress, in-laws coming in from out of town, invitations and dinners. Even a very small wedding & reception is very complicated!
As the reception was beginning, I went to the kitchen to see the cake. It was awful! Just a carrot cake bundt cake with a glaze on it (I am not kidding).

When I asked what happened, the chef friend said that when she went to pick up the cake, it had been decorated with a delicate frosting that had to be refrigerated. She told the baker that there was no room in the fridge and that she had to make something else. Two hours before the reception this happened.

She said that I shouldn’t be upset with the baker, because the cake she had made for me had been beautiful. Just stunning, she said. But she couldn’t fit it in the available fridge space, and so rejected it. The baker had two hours to throw something together, so I got the bundt cake instead.
I wasn't given access to any of this information, and by the time I found out it was too late -- hours later and the original cake was gone, the baker's shop was closed...
I never got to see my wedding cake. It's almost ten years later and I'm still upset about it.
In retrospect, I could have done so many things differently that would have caused a better outcome, but I just didn't know any better and it never even occur to me that this could happen or that my chef friend would make that kind of decision without talking to me.
My ten year anniversary is next year, and I’m seriously considering having a wedding cake made just so I can actually have one, finally.

That's so awful...I think that the worst part is the chef telling you that the cake that was originally made was stunningly beautiful when you were standing there looking at a bundt cake! I hope that you do get a tenth anniversary cake that will make up for that. Thanks for letting me share this!

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA

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